When you think of Montana, wide-open spaces or mountains may come to mind. The governor calls his state a "sanctuary for freedom."
In this day and age, when it seems like basic freedoms are under attack, that statement may cause you to take notice.
Montana's governor sat down with CBN News and spoke about freedom, the federal government, and faith.
Gov. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) lives on a tranquil piece of property in Bozeman. He describes Montana as a ruby-tinted haven for those who love liberty.
"Montana is a sanctuary for freedom and the free market," he told CBN News.
And governing from that freedom mindset, Gianforte is pushing back against mandates.
"I think it's critically important that government communicate, educate, but I don't think we should be mandating, and this is why Montana's the only state in the country that has said, 'It's a personal decision as to whether or not you want to get vaccinated,' which I believe is true," he said.
While he's been vaccinated against COVID and calls it "the best way for people to protect themselves and their families," Gianforte stops short of turning advice into public policy.
"But we're not gonna discriminate in the provision of employment or services based on vaccine status," he said. "That's also why we got rid of vaccine passports here in Montana."
He's also not a fan of mask mandates.
"We had 16 years of Democrat governors, and I inherited a set of impractical mandates," Gianforte said. "We had restrictions on hours of operation; we had a mask mandate; we had other restrictions on businesses."
"In fact, our state government was even suing individual small businesses for not being restrictive enough in the provision of their services," he continued. "We unwound all that."
Prior to becoming governor, Gianforte made headlines in 2017 after being accused of "body slamming" a journalist the day before Montana voters elected him to the House of Representatives.
Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, completed anger management counseling and paid Ben Jacobs of The Guardian some $4,500 in restitution.
Taking a Stand for States' Rights
Fast forward to 2020, when Gianforte ran for governor, he campaigned on jump-starting Montana's economy, which apparently struck a chord. According to the National Governors Association, he received more votes than any candidate for governor in state history.
Now in office, the businessman is using his platform not just to promote good-paying jobs. He's also taking a stand for states' rights.
"What we see coming out of Washington is concerning," he said. "The federal overreach, an attempt to take over our elections, that's clearly delegated to the states."
"That's why in Montana we passed a number of laws this Spring to outlaw same-day voter registration, to require photo ID's, 'cause I think no matter Democrats or Republicans, we want to have confidence in our elections," Gianforte continued.
He's also concerned about the Biden administration's immigration policy and its impact on Montana.
"What's going on at the southern border is a train wreck; it's a humanitarian crisis; it's also a national security crisis," he said. "And the effect on a northern state like Montana is the drugs and the addiction that are ripping our families and our communities apart."
In addition, he's shoring up the Second Amendment in his state.
"We also put in place rules that would push back against any federal overreach in the area of our Second Amendment, so local law enforcement would not have to enforce unconstitutional rules here in the state," Gianforte explained.
Life and Faith
The governor also is not shy about taking a stand for life.
"And of course, we need to protect the most precious amongst us; those are the unborn and the elderly, and I was very pleased to sign into law some very strong pro-life legislation to make sure we do protect the most vulnerable," he said.
Nor is he hesitant in talking about his faith.
"I am a Christian, and it's important," Gianforte shared. "First, as Believers, we know that the skills we have, in fact, the skills that anyone has, are really a gift from God."
"And our primary responsibility in life is to use those skills, to be good stewards of those skills in serving other people and honoring our Lord," he continued.
Gianforte wants his state to remain a steward of freedom and hopes the federal government follows suit.